Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tuesday, pt. 1: Discovering New Talent

On Tuesday it was back to Capricorn for me, to help with the Children's Club there; Living Hope staff and volunteers lead this 2-3 hour per day, 2 (or 3?) day per week program that generally includes games, songs, sandwiches and teaching time. The teaching for these clubs incorporates Bible instruction and AIDS prevention the case of these children, it's hardly ever too early to start either one. Innocence, at least as we think of it here in the U.S., is one of the first casualties of the conditions in which these kids live, not only due to lack of moral guidance in some cases (but not all), but also to the lack of privacy, as each child may share a one- or two-room shack with his/her parent(s), older siblings, cousins, etc.

Susie and I got to the orange container before anyone else (a first for me this week!), and some children started to gather at the car. Eventually I pulled out my guitar and sat down on the case behind the car where the shade was, and played a few Christmas songs. One or two sang along softly (or at least moved their lips).

After Sherna and her crew arrived, the kids began gathering and before long were involved in some games and songs (some of the latter led by me, some by their usual experts--and I say that with no irony intended). I consulted with Clinton on a plan for the day: songs, games, snacks. During the game time (in the same basin where the carnival had been), someone introduced me to Basil, a 12-yr.-old who had a song--his very first, I understand--written neatly in a notebook, divided into verses and chorus. I read it and complimented him on the lyrics. It didn't occur to me to ask him to sing it to me, so someone else brought him back to me and encouraged him to do just that. I was even more impressed and we sat down in a quiet spot with a friend or two of his with us, and I played a song of mine and showed him my own lyric notebook (seldom without it!). I asked him to let me shoot him on video singing his song, and he agreed. So maybe one of these days I'll be able to say I knew this successful songwriter way back when!

The original suggestion had been for me to lead some sort of songwriting workshop with the kids, but honestly I had never come up with anything for that. I hadn't felt too confident that I had anything of substance to offer the adults on Saturday, and that had gone OK...but kids can be a tougher "audience." I felt like Basil was enough to fulfill that part of my "mission" that day. Clinton, one of the local leaders who led much of the program, seemed a little stressed that I would not be taking the program off his hands as much as he had thought, but I encouraged him to let Basil share his song with the group and see what they might get from that. The point is to allow leaders to develop from among the people, after all, and sometimes the best way to do that is to get out of the way.

So, after I had helped as much I could to get the sandwiches and drinks served, it was up to Sherna to get me back to Living Hope in Muizenberg so I could make my lunch appointment with my friend Verity, whom I had finally got in touch with the evening before. I hated to be even more trouble to my hosts but I didn't want to miss lunch with a friend, either. We had a very good conversation on the way, and as she told me about her spiritual journey I could see some of the passion that drives her in offering love and time to the children in Capricorn. I told her to look me up when she comes to Nashville for Ashley's wedding in April; I'll be interested to see what she thinks of our town.

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